The Library

Art & Sole

(Laurence King)

In a world where elephant dung on a canvas constitutes art and a messy bedroom garners plaudits from across the globe, it seems strange that one of the most creative art forms goes almost unnoticed save the few who immerse themselves in the subject matter. The customisation of trainers has grown to be the bedrock of modern art especially when the major companies – adidas, Nike, Reebok, Puma etc – go out of their way to encourage it from both renowned artists and simple consumers alike.

This book provides a whole array of different aspects of sneaker art to consider from work by famous artists, such as the Japanese manga artist Katanya Terada, whose work was a story spread across both shoes and came in a laser-engraved box to the musical duo UNKLE to skate legend Mark Gonzales. However, the book’s pages aren’t simply filled with beautiful custom shoes showcasing talents of various artists, they also cover the custom ideas put forward by the shoe makers.

Nike’s laser series which sees the range completely engraved by laser is an incredible sight, especially with a full page showing the process in stages. adidas’ adicolor series not only allows the buyer of the white shoe to customise it themselves with pens, but a series also came with replaceable tongues and laces meaning a completely new shoe could be made in a matter of minutes. It’s not just the sportswear names that are involved in this book, Vans’ line of Simpsons tie-in shoes are given a 2 page spread, showing the vibrancy and colour that came with each individual artist’s techniques.

And finally, the last part of the book looks at other collaborations, some for promotion outside of the shoe itself which proves the vast range of possibilities trainer customisation has the potential to reach. In the lead-up to the 2007 Transformers film, Nike were involved in making some 13 centimetre kicks that turned into, you guess it, autobots and decepticons. One of the most striking images in the book is the Onitsuka Tiger advert which contains a huge illuminated shoe made up of the Tokyo skyline – truly a joy to behold.

So, if you’re into your footwear, like a bit of art and fancy seeing over 230 pages of the two combined, this is definitely a book for you.